Testing and P-mark certification of fire detection systems in engine compartments of buses, coaches and other heavy vehicles

All p-marked fire detection systems of heavy vehicles in accordance with SPCR 197 have been tested and are quality-assured through tests and risk analysis developed specifically for this purpose and meet the stringent requirements demanded by the market.

The majority of fires in heavy vehicles start in the engine compartment, usually out of sight of the driver/operator. Once a fire has started it is important to detect, control and ultimately extinguish the fire as early as possible to avoid injuries, loss of lives, costs related to property damages and to secure business continuity. Further, an efficient fire detection and suppression system greatly enhances the time available for safe escape in the event of a fire.

The testing and certification rules mean that detection systems for vehicles can be quality-assured through tests developed specifically for this purpose. Furthermore, the testing method makes it possible for vehicle manufacturers and users to compare different types of fire detection systems in a technology-neutral way. Viewed as a whole, this is an important contribution to improved safety and fire protection in vehicles.

Test apparatus with highlighted positions of test fires.

A reliable test method

The fire performance tests of SP Method 5320 is carried out in a test enclosure where different detection systems can be evaluated in a well-defined and objective way. SP Method 5320 includes testing of the performance and durability of a fire detection system. The performance tests are designed to include all types of detection system. System components, such as sensors, control units, warning signals and alarms, will undergo durability testing in accordance with international standards, including testing of vibration, corrosion, ageing, temperature variations, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), and penetration of water and dust (IP classification).

The test method is applicable to fire detection systems intended for engine compartments of heavy vehicles, including but not limited to buses, coaches, trucks, wheel loaders, tractors, mining machines and forestry machines.

P-mark certification process

To obtain a P-mark in accordance with SPCR 197, the fire detection system must fulfil the requirements in SP method 5320 in which the performance and durability of a fire detection system including all components is tested. A risk analysis must also be performed before the installation of the system, and regular inspections of the supplier’s quality-assurance and production-control systems must be carried out and approved.

Different requirements are, however, posed depending on whether the components are expected to be placed within or outside the engine compartment, and if the vehicle is expected to be driven on-road or off-road.

P-mark requirements for SPCR 197

All requirements in SP Method 5320 shall be met. The results of the tests, including response times, ratings, etc., will be part of the information in the P-mark certificate. For flame detectors and smoke/gas detectors, the detection system supplier shall, in addition to the requirements in SP Method 5320, meet certain requirements to avoid nuisance alarms.

In Brief

  • All 13 test fires in the system coverage test must be detected within 2 min
  • Alarm or pre-alarm within 20 s for large pool fire
  • General requirements
    • Flame detector lens supervision
    • Smoke chamber supervision
    • Smoke detector filters
  • Up to 5 of the test fires in “system coverage test” may be detected by complementary sensors/detectors, which are part of the fire detection system but do not fulfil the general requirements